UK Court allows lawsuit following the Mariana Dam Disaster in 2015

UK Court allows lawsuit following the Mariana Dam Disaster in 2015
Photo by Jon Lander on Flickr


Manon Picard

International Justice and Human Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence.

In 2015, the Mariana Dam in Brazil collapsed and caused one of Brazil’s worst environmental disaster, with more than 200,000 victims. When the Mariana Dam collapsed, it released toxic mining waste down 640 kilometres along the Doce River. At the time, the Mariana Dam was owned by the BHP, an Anglo-Australian mining company. 

On the 8th of July 2022, the British Court of Appeal allowed the six-billion-dollar lawsuit against BHP ruling that the company, who had its headquarters in the United Kingdom at the time of the incident, had to be held responsible for its role in the environmental disaster. The judgment of the Court of Appeal acknowledged that victims of the disaster had received compensation in Brazil but “[t]he vast majority of claimants who have recovered damages have only received very modest sums in respect of moral damages for interruption to their water supply […] The claimants should be permitted now to proceed with the claims in the action”. 

However, the six-billion-dollar lawsuit is considered to be “unnecessary” by BHP and the company is against the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow the case to be heard in the United Kingdom’s courts. A spokesperson of BHP stated the following: 

“We will review the judgment and consider our next steps, which may include an application for permission to appeal to the supreme court. We will continue to defend the action, which we believe remains unnecessary as it duplicates matters already covered by the existing and ongoing work of the Renova Foundation under the supervision of the Brazilian courts and legal proceedings in Brazil”.  

Sources and further reading:

Phoebe Weston. (2022, July 8). Victims of Brazil’s worst environmental disaster to get day in UK courts. The Guardian. Retrieved on July 13, 2022, from